Historic Bed-Stuy mansion bites the dust

Jacob Dangler House demolished despite Ed Norton’s activism

Edward Norton and 441 Willoughby Avenue in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn (Google Maps, Twitter via EdwardNorton, Illustration by The Real Deal)
Edward Norton and 441 Willoughby Avenue in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn (Google Maps, Twitter via EdwardNorton, Illustration by The Real Deal)

Even actor Edward Norton’s charm wasn’t enough to save a historic Brooklyn mansion from destruction.

Demolition work recently started on the famed Jacob Dangler House at 441 Willoughby Avenue in Bed-Study, Brownstoner reported. The Department of Buildings issued a permit for full demolition of the property and videos quickly popped up on social media showing it crumbling piece by piece.

Several public officials made a last-ditch effort to get a stop work order issued at the site. An inspector from the DOB checked out the site and then departed as demolition continued.

Norton joined others in making a big push to save the 120-year-old mansion. Norton was among those calling for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to step in and save the property.

Momentum toward that resolution appeared to build after a July 12 hearing. But the LPC didn’t bring the issue back for a vote, despite a push to do so quickly after the hearing.

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An organizer of the landmark effort told the publication it was “gut-wrenching to see the work happening and as predicted, so unsafely and without any warning.”

Not everyone was on board with landmarking the property. The mansion’s owners were opposed because they needed to cover debt exacerbated by their inability to rent it during the pandemic.

The French Gothic mansion dates back to the start of the 20th century, when it was built for meat packer Jacob Dangler. The property went on to serve as a clubhouse for the Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star, a masonic organization.

A seven-story, 44-unit condo building will probably replace it. Developer Tomer Erlich was chosen to develop the property because he agreed to include affordable housing and a community facility on the site.

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Edward Norton with 441 Willoughby Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)
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— Holden Walter-Warner